COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 15: Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (L) and head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers look on after the Maryland Terrapins scored during the first half at Byrd Stadium on October 15, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Two years ago Derek Dooley and Tennessee came after Kevin Steele and Clemson upped the ante to keep him here, but now he's out. We have no idea whether he has found another LB job (Green Bay is a possibility) or if he actually wishes to retire, but his office has been cleaned out before Dabo even returned from the AFCA convention.
We have looked at a few guys as possible replacements for Steele that we'd think would fit and could be talked into coming here: Jim Heacock from Ohio State (situation is in flux there), Bob Shoop from Vandy, Tom Bradley at Penn State, Chuck Heater from Temple (formerly Co-DC at Florida), Pat Narduzzi from Michigan State (unlikely as he just renegotiated), and Bill Clark from South Alabama. Randy Shannon had had a deal in place with Tennessee that fell through due to Shannon wanting a multi-year deal, but he is a possibility.
We have heard several disturbing things about Steele's possible psychological breakdown during the Orange Bowl game. Multiple sources have said that he was calling plays from his days with the Panthers, which aren't in the Clemson playbook, and as such the players were totally confused. It reportedly happened during the Auburn game as well. I do not know if that is true, and frankly think it a bit farfetched, but I do know that Steele has a reputation for being a nervous wreck on gamedays. I'm sure most of you recall that he passed out on the sidelines during a game, and I have heard many times that he requires an IV for fluids because he's such a wreck and won't eat at all on gameday. Hopefully he can get these things corrected for his own health.
For whatever reason, his inability to simplify his scheme for the players this year became the primary problem with Clemson's defense, which had been Top 25 the last two seasons. We do not believe Clemson has been as hampered by poor LB talent as many folks believe. I think even good players look like crap when they're too confused and haven't worked on fundamentals enough. We wish him luck in the future because we do think he has been a good coach over his career.
As you see, if the ducks quack loud enough, things happen. As for recruiting impact this weekend, I think it is going to be minimal unless we have a total philosophic shift on defense, and with Dabo's preference for tight coverage and pressure, I doubt that happens. Steele was not the chief recruiter for our defensive commitments this cycle.